Coming of Age Quotes in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction to Characters and Setting
  2. Character Development and Growth
  3. Learning from Relationships and Encounters
  4. Understanding Racism and Equality
  5. Symbolism of the Mockingbird and Conclusion

Introduction to Characters and Setting

The book I chose to do for this Coming of Age presentation is “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. Now, I know we all have read to kill a Mockingbird and you all know the story of each character, the literary devices, and the themes as well. We also talked about the coming-of-age aspects as well. Now I am here to elaborate on that and refresh your memory of the conflicts, character relationships, and setting. Using these elements, I will tell you how it developed the main protagonist.

Now let us talk a little bit about character development and break it down. Now, in this case, we talk about character development as the change a character undergoes through the course of the story. The change they undergo results from the various conflicts they would encounter throughout the story.

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Let us introduce some of the characters of this book, the main protagonist of this book is Jean Louise (or Scout) Finch. She lives with her father, Atticus, and her brother, Jeremy Atticus (or Jem) Finch, in the town of Maycomb, Alabama.

Scout is a very intelligent and curious young girl and always manages to connect events and make logical conclusions. Yet, she is seen to be a “tomboy” and intimidates the boys at her school because of her physical strength. She solves problems with fistfights and catching kids, beating them is a joy to her, and she is not afraid to get her hands dirty in a fight.

Jeremy Atticus (or Jem) Finch, is the 10-year-old brother of Scout Finch. Jem is seen to be a brave, curious, and kind-hearted person at the start of the book. He is always watching out for his sister and whenever she gets into an argument or fight, he is there to break it up and resolve it. His curiosity is shown through his interest in Boo Radley, who is shy and known to be a dangerous man who is never seen. His bravery is shown when he is dared to run up to the Radley House, touch the side, and run back to Scout and their friend Dill.

Atticus Finch is the father of Jem and Scout. He is a lawyer in the town of Maycomb and is one of the few people that is a supporter of racial equality. He is a very wise man who has lived life with morality and justice and passes that on to his children. Atticus Finch is a man of integrity and empathy. He always does the right thing even if it may make him unpopular with others. His choice of defending Tom Robinson, a black man who was accused of raping a white woman proves his integrity.

Some other minor characters in this book include Calpurnia, a black housekeeper, and nanny who has been with them since Jem was born. There is also Charles Baker “Dill” Harris who is the friend and summer neighbor of Jem and Scout. He is a very small yet energetic and confident boy. He is another representation of the childhood innocence that occurs in this book. As mentioned before Tom Robinson is the black man that is accused of raping a white woman and the client of Atticus Finch. He portrays the symbol of innocence. Arthur “Boo” Radley is a very independent and shy man who never leaves his house. He is an underrated person by all the other characters but has a very powerful effect on the kids, Scout, Jem, and Dill. Robert E. Lee “Bob” Ewell is a drunk who is a part of the poorest family in all of Maycomb. He is a very dark man and the evil of this book is filled with racial hate. Mayella Ewell is the daughter of Bob Ewell; she is a very lonely and unhappy person and a white woman who was essentially “raped” by Tom Robinson.

The setting of to kill a mockingbird takes place in the 1930s in Maycomb, Alabama. Maycomb was a very old town and was also said to be Farm County because of all the farmers who live there. One important place that affects the kid’s perspective is the Radley House where Boo Radley lives. The Radley House is a mysterious place that nobody dares to walk near, “A Negro would not pass the Radley Place at night; he would cut across to the sidewalk opposite and whistle as he walked. The Maycomb school grounds adjoined the back of the Radley lot; from the Radley chicken yard, tall pecan trees shook their fruit into the schoolyard, but the nuts lay untouched by the children: Radley pecans would kill you. A baseball hit into the Radley yard was a lost ball and no questions asked.”(pg.11) People are frightened by this place and don’t dare to venture near it but kids like Jem, Scout, and Dill are curious and brave and want to know what lies within. Scout’s opinion fully changes and becomes permanent when she and her brother are rescued by Boo Radley from Bob Ewell. Radley escorted Scout down the sidewalk to his place and they reached the front of his door on the porch. Boo went inside and Scout never saw him again. Instead of looking inside the house over what has intrigued the kids for so long, Scout does not and looks at the neighborhood from an angle she has never seen before and has a vision. After reflecting on the past few years and the seasons as they went by with the events that occurred and changed them she says, “Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough” (pg.374) she is picturing herself in Boo Radley’s shoes and imagining all the events that he must have seen over the past seasons. Scout sees the Radley house as a living house and not a dead one.

Character Development and Growth

At the beginning of the story, Scout Finch starts out as a five, almost six-year-old girl, who is very innocent because she has not realized the world's values, and is very self-centered like many young children. One of Scout’s very first life lessons is taught by her father, Atticus, “First of all,” he said, “if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view-” “Sir?” “-until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” This advice helps Scout that before judging somebody and reacting over it, she should put herself in their shoes and think about their situation. Scout takes his advice into effect and develops her progress effectively. In Chapter 7, Scout says, “I tried to climb into Jem’s skin and walk around in it…So I left Jem alone and tried not to bother him” (pg.77) Scout understands the situation and decides to leave Jem alone after he returns from the Radley House.

Learning from Relationships and Encounters

Scout develops and changes her attitude toward many different things over the course of this story. Some of those changes occur with Miss Maudie Atkinson, who is the woman who lives alone across the street from the Finch family. Near the start of the book, Scout describes Boo Radley as a malevolent phantom and a dangerous man that creeps around at night. However, as Scout becomes closer to Miss Maudie, she develops a more sympathetic understanding of Boo Radley when talking to her one evening on her porch. Scout starts to learn the truth about Boo Radley when Miss Maudie talks about the past, “’ No child,’ she said, ‘that is a sad house. I remember Arthur Radley when he was a boy. He always spoke nicely to me, no matter what folks said he did. Spoke as nicely as he knew how.’”(pg.61) this is the first event where Scout’s opinion on Boo Radley changes and she starts to feel sympathetic for Boo. Scout also learns about strength and courage from Miss Maudie in Chapter 8. At first, Scout does not know how to control herself as she gets into constant fights with people such as Walter Cunningham Jr., Aunt Alexandra’s grandson; Francis, and Jem most of the time. In Chapter 8, Ms. Maudie’s house burns down but she does not seem to grieve for it. “’ You ain’t grieving, Miss Maudie?’...Atticus said her house was nearly all she had. ’Grieving, child? Why I hated that old cow barn. Thought of setting 4 fire to it a hundred times myself, except they’d lock me up.’” “With most of her possessions gone and her beloved yard a shambles, she still took a lively and cordial interest in Jem’s and my affairs.” This is where Scout understands how to control herself in stressful or frustrating situations and be courageous no matter the outcome even in the worst situations like this one.

Another person to develop changes for Scout is Aunt Alexandra. As mentioned in Scout’s personality, Scout is a tomboy who dresses differently than young women and wears overalls. She also acts wild with her brother Jem and Dill. Aunt Alexandra teaches Scout about acting the way she should. She is not happy about Scout wearing overalls and that she should wear dresses all the time. “Aunt Alexandra was fanatical on the subject of my attire. I could not possibly hope to be a lady if I wore breaches; when I said I could do nothing in a dress, she said I wasn’t supposed to be doing things that required pants.”(pg.108) Aunt Alexandra wants Scout to follow her example and become a proper woman but those plans do not settle with Scout because that is not how she was raised. In Chapter 12, when Scout and Jem go to church with Calpurnia, Scout wears a dress. Therefore, she only wears a dress to church, as it seems, and not for anything else. However, in Chapter 24, she wears her pink Sunday dress for the tea party that Aunt Alexandra hosts. “Aunt Alexandra looked across the room at me and smiled…With my best company manners, I asked her if she would have some. After all if Aunty could be a lady at a time like this, so could I.”(pg.318) Scout is on her way to becoming a woman by learning about manners and respect.

Understanding Racism and Equality

Scout is also changing her views on racism in the town of Maycomb and in the world. The wise and respectful man Atticus Finch is, he has told Scout to view everybody equally no matter who they are. Scout has not yet been exposed to the racism that occurs in their community. As the story progresses, Scout is exposed to racism, and the first time with the students at her school. A kid named Cecil Jacobs was the main cause of this. “He had announced in the schoolyard the day before that Scout Finch’s daddy defended niggers. I denied it, but told Jem.”(pg.99) Kids such as Cecil Jacobs are influenced by the opinions of their parents. Scout does not know what “defending niggers” is and is oblivious to what happens in the community. In Chapter 11, Scout and Jem walk by Mrs. Dubose's house and she keeps yelling at Scout. “’ What are you doing in those overalls? You should be in a dress and camisole, young lady!’...’Not only a Finch waiting on tables but one in the courthouse lawing for niggers!’…’ yes indeed, what has this world come to when a Finch goes against his raising?’…’ your father’s no better than the niggers and trash he works for!’”(pg.135) everybody is against the Finch family because they are defending Tom Robinson. The amount of insults and attacks that Scout, Jem, and Atticus get every day shows how deep of a problem racism is in Maycomb. The trial of Tom Robinson let Scout get her full opinion on the racism that occurs in the town of Maycomb. After the trial in Chapter 25, “Atticus had used every tool available to free men to save Tom Robinson, but in the secret courts of men’s hearts, Atticus had no case. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed.”(pg.323). Scout demonstrates her maturity and understanding of race relations by understanding the meaning behind Mr. Underwood’s (who is the owner of the local newspaper) editorial. Scout learns that not everyone treats blacks as equal to whites and that people cloud their judgment through racism, and do not see the real problem.

Symbolism of the Mockingbird and Conclusion

The mockingbird is the last and one of the biggest symbols in this book that leads to Scout’s maturity. In Chapter 10 of this book when they were speaking about air rifles. Atticus says, “Shoot all the blue jays you want if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.”(pg.119). “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”(pg.119). Scout comes to realize the meaning of this at the end of chapter 30 when Atticus and the Sheriff are discussing what to do with Boo Radley after he kills Bob Ewell. “’ Taking the one man who’s done you and this town a great service an’ draggin’ him with his shy ways in the limelight – to me, that’s a sin.’…’Yes, sir, I understand,’ I reassured him. ‘Mr. Tate was right’…Atticus looked at me, ’What do you mean?’ ‘Well, it’d be sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?”(pg 369-370) Scout applies the lesson she learned earlier from Atticus and understands that Boo Radley is an innocent and defenseless person, and does not deserve to be hurt or abused by others.

Jean Louise “Scout” Finch becomes a mature young woman by the end of this book and comes to be a part of the Maycomb community along with Jem and her father Atticus by her side. By the end of the book, Scout teaches us the importance of seeing things from the point of view of others.

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Coming of Age Quotes in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. (2023, April 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 22, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/coming-of-age-quotes-in-to-kill-a-mockingbird/
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